For the first time in Rafting history Para-athletes are competing in a worldwide Rafting Championships.
Today rafters from 5 countries opened the event in Kiev with the Downriver, divided in 3 categories: R4 LTA (Amputee, Class 3: legs, torso, arms can work), Open Category (Visual Impairment Class B3, Hearing Impairment - Deaf athletes and Down Syndrome) and the Mix Category that combine different disabilities to challenge the Dnieper river from a new perspective.
The fastest raft stopped the Downriver chronometer winning the Amputee Category: Viktor Potanin (Rus), Denis Iaris (Rus), Igor Shovkievski (Ukr) and Salvatore Cutaia (Ita).
With 11.08.52 seconds they had almost a minute of advantage on the Amputee Silver: the Italian team of Massimo Giandinoto, Marco Montagna, Riccardo Novella and Rosario Sperandini (12.01.29 seconds: second best time of the day).
Three Paralympic rafters and one normo athlete formed every team of the Open Category: 13.49.85 seconds took Denis Konovalov, Andrey Galdin, Oleg Romanenka (from Russia) and Egoro Baranov (from Kazakhstan) to the first step of the Category podium.
For Andjela Pavlovic and Marina Ivanovic Kiev is the second World Rafting competition: the deaf team from Serbia competed for the first time in Kosovo one month ago at the World Cup; but in Zubin Potok they paddled in the only Para-Rafting team present. Now they are only two girls participating in Kiev and this morning, with Viktor Potanin and Denis Iaris from Russia, they took the deserved gold of the Mix Category (12.29.35 seconds).
It is no more a dream, but rather a real project, a new great adventure for our Rafting World and today was only the beginning.
Tomorrow the 9 teams will paddle through the gates: stay tuned for the Slalom!